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Sort 150

Fanfare, Anyone?

by Dear Jon
June 25, 2002

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Sort 150_Dear Jon-Fanfare, Anyone? ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

I sort-of think you should celebrate somehow on your 150'th column. Maybe you should have some trumpet sounds, some dancing, maybe some stringed instruments, and maybe some loud, resounding cymbals?

Or will you move quietly onto Sort 151?

Reg. Reader

Dear Reg,

Somehow the Webmaster has been less than enthusiastic about ideas that toot my own horn. I am by far the most regular and prolific of the PO contributors, and what thanks do I get? Nothing but a “Your Article Has Been Successfully Submitted” notice. So if the Webmaster has found it in himself to do something creative when you clicked on Sort 150, well, then you have the answer to your question. If nothing happened, ditto.

[The Webmaster submits the following image depicting Dear Jon on this happy occasion:]


Dear Jon,

Do you have any suggestions for how to get to sleep?

-Tired but Wakeful Insomniac

Dear Wake,

The trouble with the insomniac is that bed-time is a duty. Teeth are brushed for the last time, the lights are extinguished, and you end up staring at the ceiling because all the work you put into going to bed has left you wide awake.

If you really want to sleep, don’t worry so much about making sure all the lights are turned off or that you have flossed. My Dad was adept at falling asleep while watching television. The more he expressed interest in the program, the sooner he would conk out. I have perfected the technique, learned from him, of lying back on a sofa and reading until my eyes get so heavy I have to put the book down and give them a rest.

As you can imagine, my impression is that most insomniacs are women, because women believe that there is a RIGHT way to go to bed for the night. They lie awake wondering whether they have gone to bed well or poorly. Men who fall asleep with the t.v. on are even bigger jerks precisely because, going to bed all wrong, they are actually sleeping.

Then the whole “snoring” discussion gets going. Women are kept awake by the snoring of their husbands. Yeah, yeah. To get even, just fall asleep first and keep the husband awake with YOUR snoring. But you will never fall asleep first because you are so concerned about going to sleep “right.” Besides, for every snore from a man there is a woman’s foot that feels like it has been stored in a deep-freeze. To cure insomnia, I suggest women do 300 jumping jacks immediately before going to bed. Whether or not that wears you out, it will hopefully warm you up.

There is no “right” way to sleep, any more than there is a “right” way to breathe. Furthermore, there is no “right” way to eat, either, but that is an entirely different bust-up battle of the sexes.

What happens in some brains of some insomniacs, male or female, is a late-night feed-back loop. Rather than shutting down, you go into an “energy-saver” mode. This involves lying mostly still, but keeping yourself awake by cycling a thought over and over. Normally this thought has to do with some unprocessed feeling from earlier in the day: Frequently, it is the riposte that you could not think of when your co-worker was giving you grief.

Your co-worker says, “Where did you find that tie? A cereal box?” 10 hours later, at eleven twenty-seven PM, “Yes. It’s General Mills. I see you still buy the generic brands.” The insomniac then spends the next three hours repeating that line, and imagining the guffaws and congratulations of his co-workers.

Sometimes, when the insomniac has had a good, regret-free day, the night is spent recovering the litany of freeze-frame memories called “My Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments.” Or, it is spent dwelling on an illogical hope: The “she loves, she loves me not” feed-back loop for a database administrator who barely knows you exist.

The feed-back loops run until the body itself collapses into sleep. For some this is not until three or four am. The trick is to interrupt the feed-back loop. This is where the sedative of television or prose is beneficial. If, however, you MUST go to bed the “right” way, you can use other tricks to interrupt the feed-back loop. One is to imagine a highway at night. In the glow of your headlights, all you can see is the road directly in front of you, everything else is darkness. The yellow stripes zoom close and then disappear under you, one after another, on the gray ribbon of road, each stripe evenly spaced, with no change. Concentrate on the road. Concentrate.

Good night.

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Dear Jon Letters: Tips for Dating and Mating
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